July 19, 2024

The news of the devastating effects of the Akosombo dam spillage on residents of communities in the lower Volta areas started as a casual conversation and reportage in some traditional and new media platforms. At its inception, it seemed to only echo the ordeals of what appeared to be the annual fate of such communities bearing the full brunt of the dispelled water. However, as we became aware, this was not the usual situation of farmlands getting flooded and movements within the communities curtailed. This time around, the livelihoods of residents have literally come to a halt, and communities are submerged with nothing left to recover.

The state immediately had to get to work, and central government, due to the severity of the situation, took over the reins of affairs to address the plight of affected individuals. Key among a number of response mechanisms instituted by the government are:

– Establishment of an inter-ministerial committee to deal with the situation, chaired by the Chief of Staff, Hon. Akosua Frema Osei Opare.
– The Government of Ghana, through the Ministry of Agriculture, has allocated a staggering amount of $40 million to affected farmers.
– Coordinated relief items and donations disbursed by the National Disaster Management Organization (NADMO), to list a few.

Sadly, the only section of people undermining these national efforts to support our affected brethren is the overly politicization of the issue, which must immediately cease. While there is a warranted conversation on what can be done to avert this catastrophe from recurring in the future, the political inclinations, ignorant, and uninformed attacks on the government and political actors must not be nurtured and entertained. Such traits can be the undoing of the very nationalistic gains achieved over the decades in the current fourth republican dispensation.

Instead of the needless politicization of the issue, let’s all focus on how to restore the livelihoods of all persons affected and also bring the once vibrant communities back to life. I also urge the National Disaster Management Organization to deploy more equitable and effective ways of disaster management systems through donating relevant items that will provide some immediate relief, albeit temporary, as efforts are made to find long-lasting solutions.

The country as a whole must focus on discussing and improving flood control systems going forward. In matters of distributing food items and personal effects, I strongly advocate a central point of collation for equitable distribution to all persons affected. The media, which undoubtedly has a major role to play, should focus their lenses on the victims and their challenges to draw the attention of corporate Ghana since the government can’t do it alone. Last but not least, there should be continuous psychological and emotional support through engagement with affected residents.

Tracts of land, including farms and communities downstream of the Akosombo and Kpong dams, have been flooded following the spillage of excess water from the two dams used to generate about a third of Ghana’s electricity supply. The Volta River Authority started the spillage at the Akosombo and Kpong dams, both in the Eastern Region, from September 15, 2023, following a rise in the water level of both reservoirs due to appreciable levels of rainfall. The spillage affected almost all the communities along the lower Volta Basin, resulting in widespread power cuts in the affected communities.

The writer, Emmanuel Senyo, is a Governance & Leadership Analyst and Youth Activist.

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